Skip to main content

If you had the job of being a utility electric generation system operator, you would say that today is a bad day for wind generation in a massive region of the eastern United States and Canada.

Wind generation is valuable for generating electricity as a renewable source and thereby helping to potentially reduce emissions from fossil fuel combustion electric generation units.   However, a day like today with current adverse meteorology conditions in a substantial portion of the nation illustrates that wind generation cannot act as a substitute for base-load electric generation plants.  

As of 1:30 PM EDT, a large ridge of high pressure extends from the upper Great Lakes and southern Ontario through Virginia.   The high pressure ridge covers a massive area of the Eastern United States and Canada presently.

During high pressure conditions of this nature with the large geographical extent and a slow moving pattern it means the current conditions are likely to persist beyond today.

As of 1:30 PM EDT, present conditions show light winds less than 5 mph and extensive nearly calm areas covering massive areas of Eastern United States and Canada.   The area include much of Ontario, WI, MI, IL, IN, OH, PA, WV, VA, NC, KY and MD.

Another light wind area covers much of NV, WY, AZ, OR and UT, although light wind conditions in this area are less likely to continue and persist under present meteorology.

Given current temperatures approaching the 90's, such low wind to calm days can also be days of high electricity demand.

Today, presently, billions of dollars of wind generation capacity in the multiple state area identified will be producing little or no electricity and will be at a tiny fraction of their maximum generation capacity.

Today's pattern of adverse meteorology for wind generation is an excellent engineering example of why an electric utility system cannot shut down its base load generation units and simply substitute that baseload megawatt generating capacity with an equal magnitude of wind generation capacity.   Generation of electricity by wind power cannot be dispatched by the operator in real time to meet continuous load demands.

11:19 AM PT: For DK readers reviewing this diary, please note that nothing at all about this diary is a political statement against wind generation, and you should not assume that is either my intent or objective in posting this diary.    The reason for the diary is to get DK members used to the idea of a reality-based analysis of the benefits and limitations of wind energy from an electric utility engineering management and operations basis.


Originally posted to LakeSuperior on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 10:56 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks and Kosowatt.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  What a shame for solar that it's so cold today (7+ / 0-)

    oh...wait.

  •  A great example of why (15+ / 0-)

    energy storage systems are so important to supplement all electrical generation.

  •  Coal fired power plants cannot be cooled (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    radical simplicity

    efficiently in the very hot days of summer. And therefore the generation capacity must be reduced.

    This better be good. Because it is not going away.

    by DerAmi on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 11:14:48 AM PDT

    •  not really (0+ / 0-)

      Variations in the maximum generating capacity of a steam electric power plant (nuclear, coal, gas,etc.) do not depend or related to air temperatures at all.

      Such variations only depend on the temperature of the cooling water reservoir used by these plants and never on air temperature.

      •  Except that the cooling discharge kills everything (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        radical simplicity

        in the waters where it is discharged. So yeah, if you don't worry about the environment then don't worry about it.

        Would you argue to eliminate the few reglulations that are in place in regards to the water temperature?

        This absolutely comes into play on hot days. Just so happens that the water temperature and the air temperature are related... just those fucking hot days when everyone wants to keep their AC on, right?

        Your diary is a commerical.

        This better be good. Because it is not going away.

        by DerAmi on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 12:50:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
          Except that the cooling discharge kills everything in the waters where it is discharged. So yeah, if you don't worry about the environment then don't worry about it.
          Nothing about your statement is either true or typical of the effect of heated water discharges on receiving waters.   Discharge of heated water from power plants are subject to state water quality standards that limit temperature effects both in and at the edge of the mixing zone.  

          Where fish and aquatic mortality occur with power plant cooling water systems is at the intake when best management practices and intake designs allow entrainment and inpingement losses for such intakes.   Adverse effects of cooling water intake structures is a major problem across the United States at large  steam electric power plants of all types.

          Your diary is a commerical.
          Your bad faith comment illustrates you don't have any grasp on the reality of what is presented in the diary.
          •  You've earned the "bad faith." (0+ / 0-)

            And to claim that I have no grasp of the reality is pure nonsense.

            Your diary and comments show that you are soley throwing out a distraction line of discussion and any push back will only be called bad faith or off topic. Typical method of controlling a conversation and marketing an idea.

            Wind energy is only a part of the solution. There is no doubt about that. There are many, many things that must change and the inclusion of wind energy is absolutely needed. Yes, that is all off topic here.

            So yes, all I see here is you planting seeds of mistrust of wind energy on a rediculous presumption that a goddamned windmill setting out there for any period of time while the winds are a little calm is so wastefull?.

            Don't worry, your coal plants will keep chugging out the smoke in addition to any wind power we manage to get built.

            This better be good. Because it is not going away.

            by DerAmi on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 10:20:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I guess you don't read very much (0+ / 0-)

            http://large.stanford.edu/...

            Thermoelectric power plants, including nuclear plants, make up 40% of freshwater usage in the US. The high water requirements mean that the operations of these power plants are susceptible to heat waves and droughts. If the temperature of a water body is already high, environmental regulations do not allow for further discharges of high temperature water above a certain threshold. Furthermore, if water levels in a body of water drop too low, the power plant may not be able to intake enough water. [3] In the hot, dry summer of 2006, several nuclear plants across Europe stopped operations due to restricted water availability. [4] In August 2012, a nuclear reactor at Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Connecticut shut down after the seawater used for cooling became too warm. Other nuclear plants, including the Braidwood Generating Station in Chicago, were only able to continue operations with a high temperature cooling water after receiving special permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. [5]

            Climate change is predicted to have significant impacts on freshwater river flow levels and temperature. Under future climate scenarios for 2031-2060, nuclear and coal power generating capacities during summers are predicted to decrease by 4.4%-16% in the U.S. and 6.3%-19% in Europe due to a lack of cooling water. [3]

            or

            http://www.citizen.org/...

            On August 16, 2007, the Tennessee Valley
            Authority shut down Browns Ferry Unit 2 and
            reduced the output from the Units 1 and 3
            reactors to 75%, because water in the Tennessee
            River was too hot due to a heat wave across the
            Southeast. TVA had to buy power from
            elsewhere to meet demand, which was at an alltime high.1
            ♦ D.C. Cook 1, a nuclear reactor in Michigan, was
            shut down on July 30, 2006. The high summer
            temperature, along with warmer-than-usual Lake
            Michigan water, raised the containment air
            temperature above 120ºF. After unsuccessful
            attempts to cool the plant for 8 hours, the plant
            was required to be shut down.2
             The plant could
            only be returned to full power five days later, after the
            heat wave had passed.3
            ♦ On August 1, 2006, because of high water temperatures,
            Limerick Generating Station in Pennsylvania had to cut
            back production by a little over 1%, the equivalent of
            power for 12,000 homes.4
            ♦ During the 2006 heat wave, electricity production of the
            Quad Cities reactors 1 and 2 in Illinois was cut by about
            19% due to the high temperature of the water in the
            Mississippi River. Three reactors in Minnesota and one
            in Illinois also had to reduce their power output.
            ♦ On July 24, 2006, the nuclear reactor at Santa Maria de
            Garoña in Spain was shut down because of high
            temperatures in the river Ebro, used for cooling the
            plant. This power plant provides 20% of Spain’s
            electricity.5
            ♦ During the European heat wave of 2003, 17 reactors in
            France had to reduce output or were shut down. In
            Germany, the Obrigheim nuclear power plant was shut
            down, and two other reactors were decreased to 80%
            capacity, due to high river temperatures.6
            Pity.

            Reading is the sign of a developed mind.

  •  plenty of hot air blowing in DC, however /nt (5+ / 0-)

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013

    by annieli on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 11:21:10 AM PDT

  •  Wondering if Lake Superior is a straw man (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Publius2008, radical simplicity

    Have  to wonder about all the doom and gloom from Lake Superior. Renewable energy does not mean relying on one form of energy, but a combination. That includes Solar, Wind, Geothermal, and Tidal.

    It's pretty obvious, LS has an axe to grind. Question is, who is behind this?

    Instead of complaining about the lack of wind, we should be promoting Solar.

  •  It makes a good case for wind/solar power (0+ / 0-)

    plants.

  •  Wind Map (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior, Ozy

    Here's one of my new favorite things.  I reference it often as a weather indicator, but hadn't even thought to consider it in terms of an energy generation potential monitor yet.  Thanks. :)

    http://hint.fm/...

    The thing is, you see what you want to see, and you hear what you want to hear. Dig? - The Rock Man

    by BalanceSeeker on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 11:52:27 AM PDT

    •  Cool map! (0+ / 0-)

      If you 'animate' it, you can see that earlier in the day, around 9am EDT, air was pretty much stagnant across the entire US.

      So, no wind power, early in the morning so little to no solar power. That's a boatload of power that would need to come from storage. Fortunately, the demand wouldn't be quite as bad as it is in the middle of the day, but still that should provide a reality check to people who think that you can solve the intermittency problem with just building overcapacity.

      If the wind ain't blowing and the sun isn't shining, it doesn't matter how much overcapacity you have.

  •  Woa. Reality-based analysis... can we cope? :) nt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior, 6412093
  •  I checked the map out. You're reading it wrong. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    6412093, wu ming, wader, Meteor Blades

    The 2 PM map shows an area of <5 mph surface winds over the mid-Atlantic reaching west to Ohio, NE KY and SE Indiana -- that's not a large section of the country.  (Look for the dark blue over WC Mexico to see where the bottom of the scale is).

    Meanwhile, winds over the High Plains, the Southeast and most of Texas exceed 10 mph at the surface, which is just right.  

    "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

    by Yamaneko2 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 12:09:35 PM PDT

    •  I would like to be able to post that WU product (0+ / 0-)

      here but I cannot figure out how to imbed the image here.

      The 2 PM shows much of the same area I mentioned all below
      5 mph from norther Ontario all the say to Virginia.   The two lowest map colors are less then 5 mph.   A larger area is just at 5-6 mph, which won't be driving wind turbines at anything but a title fraction of their generation capacity.

    •  In addition OR, AZ and NV (also mentioned as calm) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming

      have huge amounts of hydro which can respond almost instantly to changes in demand and lack of/abundance of wind, and act as storage (by reducing flow) to an extent.

      OR and WA both have a lot of installed wind generation too, particularly in the Columbia Gorge.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 12:26:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If the wind's strong in Texas (3+ / 0-)

      that state alone cranked 9481 megawatts of wind energy on Feb. 9th, 2013.  Too bad it's hard to get that power distributed.

      If Indiana and Ohio are generating zero wind power, that's  2000 megawatts subtracted from the grid.

      This diary makes an important point.  Wind needs storage and/or back up power.

      In the Pacific NW, we set a local record by generating 4402 MW on 2/16/13.  But the next day or so, wind energy provided less than 100 MW.

      “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

      by 6412093 on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 12:29:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Depends on the turbine (0+ / 0-)

      if it's like this one:

      http://www.wind-power-program.com/...

      then 10mph would be barely on.

      You would need over 30mph for optimal power output. And even low wind speed designs (IEC III) target average speeds of 7.5m/s, which is up around 20mph, and are barely on at 5 m/s (~10-12mph).

      Why do you say 10mph is 'just right'?

  •  The amount of energy generated by a wind turbine (0+ / 0-)

    is directly proportional to the turbine rotation rate, up to the maximum design rotation rate or maximum rated windspeed of the turbine installation.

    Wind turbine generation cannot generate electricity at the maximum rated capacity of the wind turbine generation unit unless the wind reaches the maximum design basis for that turbine design.

  •  A fire destroyed the battery room (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LakeSuperior

    at Hawaiian Electric's Kahuku wind farm last year. I did not call today to see if it's back online.

    In May 2011, less than two months after the wind farm was up and running, an inverter caught fire, destroying one of 10 modules that are critical components of the energy storage system that smooths out power to HECO’s electric grid,
    Then
    POSTED: 04:18 p.m. HST, Aug 01, 2012
    LAST UPDATED: 04:58 p.m. HST, Aug 01, 2012
    Firefighters are battling a fire at a wind farm in Kahuku that has shut the operation down and appears
    to have destroyed the facility’s battery building.
    The fire started about 4:45 a.m.
    The building was destroyed.
    The complex is the island’s first large-scale wind farm, developed by Boston-based First Wind with a
    dozen 2.5-megawatt wind turbines that can produce enough electricity for 7,700 homes.
    ...
    The 15-megawatt battery energy storage system was designed by Xtreme Power Inc. of Kyle, Texas.
    Idle Kahuku Wind Farm Still Costing Ratepayers

    Stubborn fire destroys battery building at Kahuku wind farm (pdf)

    HECO says Kahuku Wind Farm's battery storage system will cost at least $8M to replace

    Should there have been sprinklers in the building? Or is that bad idea? Better batteries a better idea?

    A good horse is never a bad color.

    by CcVenussPromise on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 12:46:06 PM PDT

  •  Heat advisory now in NY/NJ area (0+ / 0-)

    and heat advisory predicted for tomorrow in Michigan.

  •  Simply saying that this is a bad day (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BeerNotWar, Meteor Blades

    for wind power contributes almost nothing to our understanding. There are several other questions that must be addressed in order to explain our options for dealing with variations in wind. For example,

    • Does your map indicate wind speed at ground level or at the level of the turbine blades? Does it account for height variations in the terrain? The differences can be quite considerable.
    • What is the integrated wind power across the entire US, Canada, and possibly Mexico, installed and available for building?
    • How much does it vary by time of day, or season, or annual weather patterns such as El Niño/La Niña? What is the practical minimum, which could become a baseload source?
    • To what extent can the grid distribute that power from the places where it is generated to the points of use?
    • What are the options for improving the grid?
    • What level of storage is included in wind power installations?What are the prospects for improved energy storage systems, both short-term (for example, batteries for periods of minutes or hours) and longer-term (over several days, such as pumped water storage)?
    • To what extent can we adjust demand to variations in supply? For example, heating and air conditioning can use in-building storage, heating or cooling water when power is most available or lowest in cost (two factors that can be aligned with variable metering).

    Wind cannot presently replace a significant amount of baseload coal-fired plant capacity. But it can substitute for gas-fired fill-in capacity when the wind is right, since gas is easy to turn on and off. We are not going to replace current baseload plants with current renewable technology in central power plants. We will do it with a variety of methods as each becomes viable. This includes rooftop solar at the point of use (which is often less expensive than utility power now), grid improvements, and massive storage systems.

    Either wind or solar could provide all of the electricity for the US, if we could solve the grid and storage problems. Combining both sources makes both of those problems significantly easier.

    Ceterem censeo, gerrymandra delenda est

    by Mokurai on Mon Jul 15, 2013 at 02:19:26 PM PDT

    •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
      Does your map indicate wind speed at ground level or at the level of the turbine blades?
      That is not my workproduct.   Those links are workproduct from Weather Underground.
      Does it account for height variations in the terrain? The differences can be quite considerable.
      Those maps describe current weather conditions reported by a wide variety of weather stations operated by many different entities across the United States.   The height where any particular station takes its wind measurement will vary from an anemometer placed on a 6 ft tripod to a 10 meter tower installation.

      The weather conditions being encountered presently produce large areas of air subsidence and very low winds no matter what the height.   Winds at height generally obey a power law, but conditions as are presently occurring in the central part of areas identified will have
      atmospheric stagnation conditions with no significant increase in wind speed with height.

      What is the integrated wind power across the entire US, Canada, and possibly Mexico, installed and available for building?
      I don't have the slightest idea.  Go to DOE-EIA or other source to answer your question.
         How much does it vary by time of day, or season, or annual weather patterns such as El Niño/La Niña?

      Time of day, season and annual weather patterns have nothing to do with the problem of what is occurring today in the atmosphere over large portions of the Eastern United States.

      What is the practical minimum, which could become a baseload source?
      Wind power is never considered as a baseload source by electric utility system operators and engineering planners.
         To what extent can the grid distribute that power from the places where it is generated to the points of use?
      This question is relatively unimportant in light of electric utility industry policy to keep non-system purchase power at the absolute minimum possible level.
         What are the options for improving the grid?
          What level of storage is included in wind power installations?What are the prospects for improved energy storage systems, both short-term (for example, batteries for periods of minutes or hours) and longer-term (over several days, such as pumped water storage)?
      Most of this is off of the topic of the diary.   Dedicated battery storage for large wind and solar units is in its infancy and has physical limitations for utility peak demand planning purposes.
         To what extent can we adjust demand to variations in supply? For example, heating and air conditioning can use in-building storage, heating or cooling water when power is most available or lowest in cost (two factors that can be aligned with variable metering).
      Demand-side management is not a source of generating electrical power, but is essential for electric utilities to carry out to manage peak loads.
  •  Look, this is a fundamental misunderstanding. (0+ / 0-)

    Who the hell cares if wind doesn't function as eternal baseload power?

    Power loads are inconstant.

    Because of that, you ALWAYS (except at your absolute peak) need to have some capacity that is idle (and even then you want to have SOME capacity available=idle, just in case...)

    What effing difference does it make whether your solar is idle when it's night-time, your wind is idle when a high-pressure system clamps down on wind, or whether your coal power plant is idle because demand is down and you need to take it off-line?

    Some of your power generation capacity is gonna be offline. Always.

    •  Precisely ... (0+ / 0-)

      ... this is a straw man argument ~ serious proposals for a fully renewable, sustainable energy supply are not based on any one element of the portfolio acting as a "baseload power", they are based on the total combined sources in the portfolio offering reliability as good or better than current fossil fuel powered sources.

      We already know that the wind is not blowing steadily everywhere, even though it is normally blowing somewhere, so the "breaking news" that its not blowing steadily somewhere is not in fact news.

      Indeed, the specific "headline news" being presented here is that in areas where there is not likely to be a high concentration of onshore windpower installed, the average windspeeds are lower than they are in the higher value onshore wind resources in the northern and southern Great Plains where there is likely to be more windpower capacity installed... or, in other words, an example of why here in Northeast Ohio, the primary wind resource would be offshore on Lake Erie, where since the differential between lake and shore warming and cooling is not going to shut down as a result of a high pressure system, that wind resource would not actually be entirely shut down by a high pressure system.

      Support Lesbian Creative Works with Yuri anime and manga from ALC Publishing

      by BruceMcF on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 10:26:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site